5 Reasons I Love Eckhart Tolle

The one thing that has changed my life when it comes to how to be present minded is the simple—and yet, life-altering—fact that I am not my mind.

I am not Jenn.

I’m not a health blogger.

I’m not even a bunny loving, tea-drinking, glitter girl.

I am something infinitely more than my mind, my thoughts, or emotions. I am a Being.

I just am.

I recently read Eckhart Tolle’s Book A New Earth after going through a rough patch in an area of my life. It was so amazing, and it helped me heal more in two weeks than all these years without my illness.

Here are five reasons I’m really loving Eckhart Tolle and how his musings have transformed my life.

1. Tolle Advocates for Not Identifying with Your Mind

Tolle acknowledges the power of being present and not identifying with our pasts, our minds, or our emotions.

Doing so only gives strength to the ego in us, which creates a multitude of problems and suffering. When you identify with something, you must defend it, nurture it, become victim to it.

The bridge in the picture represents the pathway between you and your mind.

Bridge

While many people are unable to separate themselves from their mind and feel that they have no choice but to identify with their emotions, their struggles, that fabulous baby pink shade of nail polish, or a career, they don’t see a bridge.

They see only one thing without a way out, which is their mind. People tend to think a lot and totally identify with their thoughts.

The bridge is between you and your mind.

You can be on one side and travel to the other side occasionally, that is to think or be creative or whatever you choose.

But we don’t need to be thinking all the time. In fact, it’s pretty hurtful to us and prevents you from realizing how to be present minded. When you’re here, right now, in this moment, you realize nothing truly matters and just enjoy being.

2. He Cultivates Presence

When considering how to be present minded, we can cultivate presence to experience more joy, less sorrow, and be more effective at what we do.

Cultivating presence is the act of just being in the moment. Cultivate awareness of your body, your environment, your emotions. Allow things to come and go, but do not judge them or label them.

Just be right here where you are.

When you can feel your own presence without the constant chattering of the mind, you become more whole in this moment and less immersed in all your perceived mind problems.

3. He Establishes a Way out of PAin

It’s not easy to let go of all the things you feel establish you and help you to be grounded.

But when you’re thinking how to be present minded, consider that what grounds you is not what actually grounds you, rather just something that makes you feel more secure in your ego.

The way out of pain and suffering is to stop identifying with your mind. Yes, your mind is there, but do not let it consume you. Do not let your emotions be who you are. Nothing can define what you are. You are right here.

4. Tolle Points out the Power of No Resistance

Many of our feelings are responses from the ego.

The ego is always seeking, always wanting, always trying to be superior. Nothing is ever good enough for the ego, not even yourself.

The ego thrives on reaction. It wants you to react and defend your position, which in effect strengthens it. What the ego cannot and will not realize is that there is great power in no resistance.

It’s a challenge to realize that you have a choice and not react. Try it. Next time someone gets upset with you, do not react. Remain present.

How to be present minded begins here.

5. He Acknowledges that Being Is the Ultimate Experience

Just be.

Don’t try to find yourself, seek happiness, or ground yourself in things. It’s amazingly liberating to realize that your past does not define you, that your life situation does not define you, that your objects do not define you.

We’re people who have the ability to stay present, not take criticism personally, and are always looking to learn and grow.

How could you ever be defined?

What Is It Like Being a Freelance Writer? 5 Things No One Told Me

Writer?

Freelancing sounds so dreamy, right?

You work from home, you take two-hour breaks in which you do nothing but drink tea and read graphic novels, and you can work at midnight if it suits you then sleep in until 10 a.m. the next morning (like I do that, pfff).

While I love my life as a freelancer, there are things to consider when thinking what is it like being a freelance writer! Here are five things nobody warned me about when I started this business.

1. You Get to Have Great Relationships With Your Clients

For some reason, I had the impression that I would just send my work to people and that would be that.

But alas, no.

I’m part of conference calls and Skype sessions, even “interview” calls for people thinking of “hiring” me. I’m expected to be part of a team of people who make amazing content happen, including editors, other writers, website developers, and marketing people.

You have to actually build relationships with your clients, and this includes much more than just sending them good writing. What is it like being a freelance writer? Building great relationships with clients and being involved in their company, even though you’re just a freelancer.

2. The Networking Is Awesome

I’m someone who generally doesn’t network, even if it would help me, simply because I’m not a people person and don’t really like putting myself out there like that.

But, when considering what is it like being a freelance writer, you have to reach out to people to get business as a writer. So I threw myself out there. I’m meeting all kinds of people who need all sorts of different things. I even meet people who need full-time copywriters.

I think about that for a second and I’m like, wow, I would have never heard about that job if I wasn’t doing this.

3. You’ll Find Out More About Yourself

When I started freelancing, I wanted to be everything to everyone, and I wasn’t sure how to find my niche or even what my niche should be.

But as you grow and realize what is it like being a freelance writer, you understand more about the great experiences as a writer that help you refine your skills even more than they already are. It’s an exploration journey!

4. Working From Home/Anywhere You Want Is Harder Than You Think

It’s great working from home, don’t get me wrong! It’s even better when you can travel, but it’s harder than you think, people.

What is it like being a freelance writer? You have to be a self-starter. I’m a really disciplined person and great at managing tasks and making my own schedule, but this is hard. You need to be on the ball if you’re going to make this work!

When you’re at the office, there’s not much else to do besides officey-type things. When you’re at home or in a fun new city, there’s lots to do besides writing a blog. I can work from anywhere in the world, but it’s a distracting world out there, and I’m learning that my motivation and schedule need to be on track or I’m not getting any work done.

5. It’s More Work

There were times when I was at my job in DC when I was bored or felt unchallenged. It was almost always easy for me to get all my work done while I was there. This is not the case with freelance writing. No one told me quite how much work this would be.

Making great writing isn’t easy, even for someone like me who’s been writing for a long time and majored in English at Penn State. What is it like being a freelance writer? Working at this because every client (and every project) is different.

You’ve got to deliver based on their needs, and it’s YOUR job to find out what their needs are. When you’re not done everything you need to do by quitting time, no one else is going to do it on the next shift. It’s just you and you have to work, dammit!

While freelancing has been both easier and harder than I thought it would be, and for all different reasons, I love being able to do what I love. Being a freelancer writer is amazing. I’m always working on being a great writer for my clients and a master of scheduling at home. Never give up on what you truly want to do!

The Truth About “Humane”, “Free-Range”, and “Cage-Free” Meat and Eggs

chickens in cage

I know some of you nice people out there think that you’re doing good by buying only “cage-free” or “humane” or “free-range” eggs and meats.

While I will agree that this is the lesser of the two evils that come with harvesting food from animals, I will also argue that these are just marketing claims and are still not ok. The truth about free range is different than what these advertisements claim.

The Marketing Behind Organic or Humane Products

There’s a huge market out there for organic, free-range, cage-free, and humane animal products. People want to feel that they are making better, smarter choices by choosing these products.

The truth, however, is that these products aren’t too much different from conventionally-raised meat.

I’d like to begin with some excerpts from Michael Pollan, an author, journalist, and activist who I dearly love and admire. In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he talks about “Big Organic” and what he found out it really means.

“I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods nearly as much as I enjoy browsing a good bookstore, which, come to think of it, is probably no accident: Shopping at Whole foods is a literary experience, too. That’s not to take anything away from the food, which is generally of high quality, much of it “certified organic” or “humanely raised” or “free-range”. But right there, that’s the point: It’s the evocative prose as much as anything else that makes this food really special, elevating an egg or chicken breast or bag of arugula from the realm of ordinary protein and carbohydrates into a much headier experience, one with complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimensions. Take the “range-fed” sirloin steak I recently eyed in the meat case. According to the brochure on the counter, it was formerly part of a steer that spent its days “living in beautiful places” ranging from “plant-diverse, high-mountain meadows to thick aspen groves and miles of sagebrush-filled flats”. Now a steak like that has got to taste better than one from Safeway, where the only accompanying information comes in the form of a number: the price, I mean, which you can bet will be considerably less. But I’m evidently not the only shopper willing to pay more for a good story.

With the growth of organics and mounting concerns about the wholesomeness of industrial food, storied food is showing up in supermarkets everywhere these days, but it is Whole Foods that consistently offers the most cutting-edge grocery lit. On a recent visit I filled my shopping cart with eggs “from cage-free vegetarian hens,” milk from cows that live “free from unnecessary fear and distress,” wild salmon caught by Native Americans in Yakutat, Alaska (population 833), and heirloom tomatoes from Capay Farm ($4.99 a pound), “one of the early pioneers of the organic movement.” The organic broiler I picked up even had a name: Rosie, who turned out to be a “sustainably farmed” “free-range” chicken from Petaluma Poultry, a company whose “farming methods strive to create harmonious relationships in nature, sustaining the health of all creatures and the natural world.” Okay, not the most mellifluous or even meaningful sentence, but at least their heart’s in the right place.

I also visited Rosie the organic chicken at her farm in Petaluma, which turns out to be more animal factory than farm. She lives in a shed with twenty thousand other Rosies, who, aside from their certified organic feed, live lives little different from that of any other industrial chicken. Ah, but what about the “free-range” lifestyle promised on the label? True, there’s a little door in the shed leading out to a narrow grassy yard. But the free-range story seems a bit of a stretch when you discover that the door remains firmly shut until the birds are at least five or six weeks old–for fear they’ll catch something outside–and the chickens are slaughtered only two weeks later.”

—From Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, pages 134-140 (pub. 2006 by Penguin)

The Food and Drug Administration’s Policy for Free-Range, PAsture-Fed, and Grass-Fed

The Food and Drug Administration’s free-range policy for poultry is this: the facility must show that the chickens have been allowed access to the outside.

This doesn’t mean that the animals are required to spend any time outdoors or even that they have gone outside at all during their lives. So while you might be purchasing chicken thinking that the chicken lived its life in a peaceful meadow, the reality is often far from this idea.

So what about eggs?

Turns out, the FDA doesn’t have any solid guidelines for what a free-range chicken egg should be, so this label really is just a marketing term, similarly to how the claim “dairy-free” has literally no backing according to the FDA.

But what about beef and pork?

So for these types of meat, pasture-raised means that the animal has been provided access to the outside for a minimum of 120 days a year while grass-fed means that the animal was fed a diet consisting solely of forage its entire life after being weaned off its mothers milk, but not necessarily that the animal was ever outside, just that they were fed grass and not grain (which, from a consumer standpoint, is healthier, but not really humane).

The Local Difference

I advocate for LOCAL meat and eggs. This does not mean you trust a supermarket to tell you the truth about free range, where this animal has lived, what it ate, or what its lifestyle was.

I do believe that buying organic (according to the USDA’s definition) is better even though I don’t necessarily believe it’s the most humane or sustainable way to enjoy meat and eggs.

You need to look for small grocery stores (and I mean really small) if you truly want local or humane meat. Some of these meat and egg products might not even be humanely raised or handled, just local, so you’ll need to find out for yourself how the animals are treated.

You need to go find these farms and actually see them for yourself. And if the people don’t let you see the farm even after you offer them money for their meat or eggs, you know there’s a problem and something disturbing is going on there and that they don’t want you to know the truth about free range.

If you want to buy your eggs and meat from the supermarket, going to a place like Whole Foods and buying products that say “humane” or “free-range” might not be any better than going to Wal-Mart.

How You Can Make a Difference

I would advocate for you to buy locally or just kill and skin that animal yourself.

Afraid of doing that?

You probably shouldn’t be eating meat then. If you’re not willing to go through with the actions that brought you your meal, what sense does it make to eat it?

You can make a difference by choosing to purchase truly local foods that ensure animal welfare and healthier products.

Oh, and “cage-free”? This term, according to the FDA, means that the chickens are usually packed so tightly into barns that they live in their own feces, get their eyes and feathers plucked on by other chickens, and are more prone to disease.

Happy eating!

How to Respond When Someone Gives You Something You Can’t Eat

No eat cookie

It sucks, right? When someone gives you something that you can’t eat. What do you do in these situations?

Normally around the holidays, cookies start showing up at my place and people’s moms’ try to make me stuff. How do you inform them that you can’t eat that cookie or you’ll die (ok so maybe you won’t die, but being in pain is bad enough, am I right)?

I have a few suggestions for how to deal with these unfortunate circumstances, whether they happen with a family member, a neighbor, or someone’s mom. They could happen around holidays, birthdays, or times of woe. Here are my suggestions for how to respond when someone gives you something you can’t eat.

Tell Them the Truth

This works best when you’re dealing with family, friends, or neighbors who are unlikely to move anytime soon.

You don’t have to be mean about it. You can just politely say, “Oh, I’m so sorry, but I’m gluten and dairy intolerant.” To your surprise they may say, “Bitch, I made these with flaxseed and coconut flour!” or they may say, “Oh sorry! There’s definitely butter in there”.

Regardless of what they say, you’ll know you told the truth.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • Next year, they will (hopefully) remember that you can’t eat gluten or dairy and will not make you any more cookies, or attempt to make you special cookies (which are, admittedly, the best kind).
  • You won’t have to lie when they follow up with you: “How were the cookies?!”
  • You’ll feel good speaking up for yourself and informing your giver.
  • You won’t have any cookies to dispose of to the raccoons (who should really not be eating gluten anyway).

Cons of this scenario:

  • Your giver may not remember that you declined these cookies, and give them to you again.
  • Your giver may not remember that you didn’t eat their cookies, and still ask you how they were later.
  • Your giver may misunderstand the meaning of “intolerance” or “allergies”, and think that you’re just avoiding these things for other reasons such as weight loss and say, “But you’re so skinny!” prompting you to think that they secretly think you’re fat and are therefore trying to be reassuring about your slimness.
  • You may feel rude for declining them. And you’ll definitely feel left out when everyone is eating them and you’re not.

Politely Accept and Say Nothing

This is best when you’re working with an unfamiliar host or giver. It’s likely you’ll never see them again and who cares if you touch those cookies and then toss them in the trash?

There’s no follow-up, no thank-you cards (“Thanks so much for the plate of sickness you provided me. I was on the toilet all night and had extreme muscle pain for days. Happy Holidays”), and no confrontation.

Saying thank you and moving on is easy. Defending your honor is not.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • It’s easy!
  • You don’t have to explain your intolerance or allergy.
  • It means little to no extra attention for you and people looking at you like you’re crazy.

Cons of this scenario:

  • You’re a liar. You’re lying by omission. Shouldn’t that woman know she almost just sent you to the ER?
  • You may feel voiceless and unimportant. Why shouldn’t you speak up for yourself?
  • What the hell are you going to do with those cookies now????

LIE

This can work well with people you almost never see, but are not quite strangers. This can also work well with distant neighbors (at least two doors down) or relatives.

Now, I’m not about lying, so I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s a hefty chance it will come back and bite you (like 100% chance). But damn it, sometimes it’s just so much easier! “Thank you so much for the wonderful milk chocolate covered pretzels. They were wonderful.” Barf.

Benefits of this scenario:

  • You won’t offend the wonderful people who tried to make an effort and give you this food (which may be partly vegan but is definitely NOT vegan).
  • You won’t have that bad feeling after you crush their hopes and dreams of giving you cookies.
  • You will not appear ungrateful in any way.

Cons of this scenario:

  • You obviously just told a huge lie about your body and your health. While you did not admit to eating them, you implied it, and your giver will probably make you the same thing next year and the year after that and the year after that. It’s a huge waste, not to mention you’re indirectly supporting animal torture: you may not be buying the milk that went into that milk chocolate, but this giver is buying it for you. Get it?
  • You may get found out, which will look really bad for you and all parties involved. Your neighbor may tell your mom, “Oh, Jenn just absolutely loved those milk chocolate covered pretzels” and your lovely mother will say, “Jenn doesn’t eat milk you ignorant fool!”
  • You’ll feel crappy for making your giver feel loved and appreciated when really you are flushing those pretzels down the toilet while sticking a finger in your mouth in a gagging impression

At the end of the day, you need to decide which one you can live with. I will always advocate for the truth-telling scenario, but will admit that sometimes I fall into the other scenarios. It just depends on who you’re dealing with, where you’re at, and what works for you. Whether you accept the desserts or not, make sure you don’t eat them!

18 Questions to Ask Your Local Beef Provider

Is your beef local beef?

cow

Listen, I’m not into slaughtering animals. My diet is mostly plant-based and I rarely eat meat. If I do eat meat, I know exactly who killed it and where it came from and what kind of life it had.

So why am I doing this post?

I’m doing this post because I recognize that people like meat. People think meat is a cultural thing and that they’re entitled to eat it. If you want to kill and eat an animal, I’m ok with that.

BUT, it’s HOW you kill the animal that I have a problem with. This is why I only eat meat if I know who killed it and how—aka local beef.

Local beef is great, but before you purchase local beef, you need to figure out a few things. I’ve compiled a list of questions you can and should ask your local beef provider.

1. Do you have one location or several?

Best answer: one.

The reason you want to ask this question is because this will be the easiest way for you to determine if you’re dealing with a legit local beef farm or an industrial farm masquerading as a local one. If they tell you they have several locations, that should be a big red flag—aka not local beef.

2. How often are the cows outside?

Best answer: always.

You want to ask this question rather than “are they given unlimited access to the pasture” because they could very well be given unlimited access to the pasture, but they may not actually be going into the pasture for whatever reason.

The cows should be outside pretty much all the time when it’s real local beef.

3. Do you provide shelter for the cows outside?

Best answer: yes, but they are not contained in this shelter.

If the cows are outside all the time, you want to be sure they have some adequate shelter for inclement weather.

4. Do you raise both male and female cows? If so, how do you regulate breeding?

Best answer: yes, we do our own breeding and regulate breeding with castration.

The reason you want this answer is because this way you know they are not bringing in cows from somewhere and that the farm truly is local beef.

5. Are the male cows castrated? If so, how? Is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes to the anesthesia!

If they don’t castrate their cows, that’s great. The problem is that most places do, so hoping they’ll say “no” might indicate that they engage in unethical practices to inhibit breeding.

You want them to say that they use local anesthesia and that they simply cut them off. Look up more about these practices to find out why you want them to use anesthesia.

If you speak to the actual farmer and he or she says they do it themselves, that’s even better. That’s true local beef, where the farmer takes care of his cows.

6. If the cows get sick, are they treated and how?

Best answer: yes, they are treated.

The farmer should tell you exactly how the local beef cows are treated and if they have an on-site vet that comes as needed.

7. How is the pasture maintained?

Best answer: organically.

Chances are your farmer won’t actually say “organically”, they’ll just tell you that they don’t spray the pasture with anything and the cows simply maintain it by grazing. Yay, local beef cows!

8. Are the cows purely grass-fed or are they fed supplemental grains?

Best answer: mostly grass-fed.

Some farmers feed their local beef cows a bit of supplemental grains to take the “gamey” taste out of the meat like you get with deer or squirrel, but ideally, you’d like the cows to be almost purely grass-fed. Ask what the supplemental grains consist of and if they are genetically modified (corn and soy).

9. Any growth hormones used?

Best answer: no.

If a farmer tells you they use growth hormones, you should just hang up right then, unless you want an enlarged prostate, acne, and overweight children. That’s not local beef, peeps.

10. Are the cows tagged/branded? If so, is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes.

Sorry, but most farmers will at least ear tag their local beef cows, like the cow you see in the above picture. If they say they brand, you should probably just end the call, because if they are cruel enough to brand an animal, chances are they are not using anesthesia.

NOW. It is time for the slaughter questions. Brace yourself.

11. Do you process your own beef?

Best answer: no.

Unfortunately in the United States, if you want to sell your meat, your animals have to be killed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

So chances are if you are buying this local beef meat, it will need to be killed at a slaughterhouse. If they tell you that they process their own beef, it’s technically illegal for you to buy it.

12. Where is the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: close.

Have them give you the name of the slaughterhouse and the exact location. Look up how far away it is from the farm. It should be less than an hour away if it’s for local beef.

13. How are the cows transported to the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: by me.

If they call a company to come and take the cows, that’s not really local beef and chances are they probably don’t care about the cows and how they are transported. The more details they can give you, the better.

14. How many animals does the slaughterhouse kill per day?

Best answer: less than 10.

If this is a really local place, you’ll want them to have minimal slaughtering going on. The more animals they slaughter, the less humane they treat them.

The answer to this question will also tell you how large the slaughterhouse is. If they tell you that they slaughter hundreds of animals per day, this is a commercial slaughterhouse and chances are your cow is not dying humanely.

That’s not local beef for you.

15. How do they slaughter the cows?

Best answer: they shoot them with a gun.

This is the better option, as terrible as it sounds, because this means your local beef cows are not getting stunned and tortured before they die.

If the farmer tells you he doesn’t know how the cows die, you can contact the slaughterhouse, but I would most likely end the call. If the farmer doesn’t care how his cows are being killed, what else doesn’t he care about?

You want to make sure the cows are killed quickly and not being dismembered while they are still alive.

16. Can I visit the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: yes.

The farmer may not know the answer to this question, and that’s fine. You can always contact the slaughterhouse. But, if he tells you they let people in and that you can go see it, this is great news. You’ll want to confirm with the slaughterhouse though. Commercial slaughterhouses will not let you in there.

17. How are you sure that you’re getting your cows back?

Best answer: I’m sure.

The farmer should tell you a detailed process for how he knows he’s getting his cows back, such as he knows the people at the slaughterhouse personally, his meat tastes distinct from all other meats, etc.

If he says he has no idea, then this is not someone who is very informed.

18. Can I see the farm?

Best answer: yes.

Any farmer who is proud of his animals and the way he treats them will welcome you to his farm to check out his local beef.

After you ask all these lovely questions, schedule a trip to see both the farm and the slaughterhouse. This is local beef for you! You’ll feel so much better and more conscious purchasing and eating this beef if you know exactly where it came from, how it lived and died, and what it ate. Support humane cow farms!

Do You Really Know What’s Been Done to the Animals You’re Eating? Take This Quiz!

Today I’ve been feeling depressed about the meat, egg, and milk market in America. I can’t speak for other countries, but this industry in America is really messed up.

But just how depressing is America’s meat, egg, and dairy industry? Think you know what’s happening behind those closed “barn” doors that the “farmers” won’t let you see?

Let’s take a little quiz to see how informed you are, you educated thing.

Animal Industry Quiz: What Happens to the Meat, Eggs, and Dairy before We Eat It?

Disclaimer: may be depressing.

1. Before pigs are killed, they are:

a) given a farewell hug, then their throats are slit

b) Ushered into a room with other pigs, where they all are shot

c) stunned with a taser, thrown in a giant tub of scalding water, then skinned (they may still be alive at this point)

2. Male chickens do not lay eggs. What happens to the male chicks after they are born in the egg industry?

a) they are sent to happy local farms where they will become roosters and peck away at their hearts’ content

b) sent to another farm in the meat industry where they will be raised with hormones, then killed for some American family’s dinner

c) they are ground up alive

3. Veal is some tasty beef (I’ve never had it, but I’ve heard this). What happens to veal before you pick it up at the store?

a) the baby cow has played happily in a field with its mom

b) the baby cow lived on a giant factory farm with other baby cows, being fed unnatural grains before it was slaughtered

c) the baby cow was tethered to a post in a dark stall all by itself where it never saw daylight or moved much, and then it was killed

4. Male cows are neutered in the meat industry. How is this process accomplished?

a) with anesthesia, a vet comes to administer this and remove the testicles

b) without anesthesia, a qualified individual simply cuts off the testicles and stitches up the area

c) without anesthesia, someone ties a rubber band around the testicles to cut off the blood flow. The testicles turn black and then fall off

5. How are female cows able to keep producing milk?

a) female cows just naturally produce milk all the time

b) they are injected with hormones to keep them producing milk

c) they are impregnated time after time by having sperm injected into their vaginas. Immediately after they give birth, their calves are taken away to farms where they will be injected with hormones, raised for meat, and slaughtered at a young age

6. A specific breed of chicken has dominated the meat industry. Why was this chicken bred?

a) it tastes better

b) it looks better

c) people in America want chickens with bigger breasts, so the chickens are bred so their breasts grow so big that many of them cannot walk

7. When pigs are transported to the slaughterhouse, they are:

a) put in sturdy cages so they don’t fall or hurt each other

b) put into trucks where they have room to lay down and are given water and a snack

c) packed into trucks so tightly with no food and water for many miles; many die from heat exhaustion or freeze to the side of the trucks, where, if they are still alive upon arrival, they are cut off the side of the truck and their skin is removed

8. What happens to chickens at the slaughterhouse?

a) they are given baths before their throats are slit

b) they are gassed to death

c) hung upside down by their legs and dragged through water with electricity run through it, which paralyzes them, and then their throats are slit while they are still conscious. Although, some of them miss the blade and end up being dumped in scalding hot water still fully conscious

9. Cows at the slaughterhouse are:

a) comforted before they die

b) get their throats slit and someone is there to ensure that every cow dies quickly

c) they are shot in the head with a bolt to stun them, their throats are slit, and they are dismembered. Some cows are not properly stunned or do not immediately die after their throats are slit, and they are dismembered while still conscious

10. Egg-laying chickens:

a) sit on pillows while laying their eggs

b) are in individual cages where they don’t have much room to move

c) are so tightly packed in cages with other chickens that they do not have room to move or clean themselves. With cage-free chickens, they are usually packed the same way on the floor where the spread of illness is more likely and they still do not have room to do much

I’m going to make this super easy for you guys: the answer to all of them is c.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be.

This stuff is happening right now all over the country. If you guessed c for most of them, then you’re well informed and know your stuff, and hopefully, you aren’t still buying commercial meat and dairy and eggs.

The great thing about this is that you DON’T have to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy to stop supporting this industry. You just need to get local meat, eggs, and dairy. This means that you need to find small local farms where the farmers are actually farmers and they let you see and pet the cow and other animals.

This food is also so much healthier for you too as usually, these local farms let their cows and chickens eat natural food such as grass without shoving unnatural GMO grains down their throats.

Finding local farms is not easy, depending on where you live. And when you do find them, you’ll need to make sure the animals are happy and healthy before you choose to support them by buying their meat, milk, or eggs.

It’s ok to be depressed about this stuff but don’t be angry or depressed without reason—act on this! Stop buying commercial meat, milk, and eggs and pack on the veggies!

What Have I Accomplished in My Year After Graduating College?

The year after graduating college can be a daunting one (ok, seriously, I hate it when people use the word daunting, but it seemed appropriate here). But I’m here to tell you why mine has been the most liberating ever!

accomplishment

Today has been a year since I graduated from Penn State. It seems nuts to me that it’s been a year, but at the same time, so much has happened.

So what have I accomplished in my year after graduating college?

Focused More on My Personal Growth Than My Professional

When I graduated, I felt like I had a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

I started my B.A when I was 18, and graduated when I was 23. I had spent years trying to get my degree, and now it was over.

What should I do?

I used the year after graduating college to focus much more on my personal self than on my professional one. After all, I’d finished my degree—now it was time to focus on me and my inner goddess.

Got a Full-Time Job—But Quit

So I had a full-time job before I even got my diploma in the mail.

After applying to job after job after job both right before and after I left Penn State, and going on only two interviews, I landed a job at a security firm as a tech writer close to DC. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to get a job but I did, and I was ecstatic to start.

I thought I wanted to do tech writing—turns out, it’s not really my cup of tea. I’m not embarrassed to tell you that I quit that job after only a few days because it went so badly.

I wasn’t happy, and happiness is a priority in my life, especially the year after graduating college.

Got a Part-Time Job

After I quit my first job, I felt lost and confused as to what I wanted.

I was still applying the year after graduating college but had less certainty and confidence as to what I wanted. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but if I couldn’t do tech writing, how could I find a legit writing job?

I applied to the women’s homeless shelter in DC and got the job. It was part-time, but exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to do while still making an income the year after graduating college.

Figured Out What I Truly Want To Do

I love my work in DC. It’s been so empowering and it has been a fabulous opportunity to grow and figure out what I want.

I learned that I want to help people and not just homeless people. I wanted to write, too. I just needed to confidence to actually figure out how to start my writing professionally.

Started My Own Business

So walaah! I started my own freelance writing business almost a year after graduating college. It’s going great and I love it, and it feels awesome to get paid doing what I love to do—writing!

Learned Where I Want to Live

Ian was interning in Asheville, North Carolina during the year after graduating college. I drove down there a couple times that summer and spent several weeks with him while I was unemployed (those weeks were some of the most healing of my life, it felt like).

I really loved Asheville and North Carolina. I hope to move there!

Stopped Being so Afraid of Life

When I graduated, I was terrified of so many things. I think more than all these things though, I was afraid of my ability to actually do something worthwhile that people would pay me for.

What would my life mean if I couldn’t do what I loved?

I was so scared of actually living my life and going for my dreams. After this past year after graduating college, I’m still a little scared, but not half as much as I was. And I gained more confidence, too.

Realized How My Misdiagnosis Has Impacted My Life

That crazy illness that I was diagnosed with almost 8 years ago is not the illness I have.

I do not have any illness; my body merely has an autoimmune response to a protein named gluten. I realized that my illness has both made me terrified and less confident.

I’m not sick, and I don’t have to be sick. I choose what’s best for my body. I live the way I want to live. Going through my illness has made me less likely to spend time on things that I don’t want to spend time on. I cherish my time now and what I do with it.

Our lives are so short, so do what makes you happy!

So my year after graduating college didn’t quite go like I thought—but it was a magical one and I’ve come so far personally and professionally!

Homemade Sunscreen without Zinc Oxide

I made my own homemade sunscreen after finding out that the one I bought at the store had weird ingredients in it.

I didn’t exactly want these to be absorbed into my skin (yes, even despite it being cruelty-free). This recipe was adapted from several different recipes and was my first time making my own sunscreen.

Welcome to my homemade sunscreen recipe without zinc oxide! With just seven ingredients and seven easy steps you can be on your way to enjoying the sun without getting burned!

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe without Zinc Oxide

Ingredients

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1/4 cup shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/8 cup avocado oil

2 tbsp. beeswax granules

1 tsp. carrot seed oil

1 tsp. red raspberry seed oil

Any essential oils you want to scent it (trust me, you’re going to want to scent it) I used lavender but you can use whatever you want.

Update Note: Readers have commented that citrus essential oils are photosensitive, so you may want to avoid these!

So How Do You Make It?

Step One

In a saucepan, put the shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and beeswax in over medium heat. You’re on your way to having great homemade sunscreen!

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Step Two

Let all of these ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally. The beeswax will be the last thing to melt.

Step Three

After everything is melted, pull the pan off the heat and let it sit until it cools down to room temperature. It’ll look something like this once it’s cooled:

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Step Four

Put the whole thing in the fridge for 15-45 minutes. You want it to set up a bit but not be too firm!

Step Five

Remove pan from the fridge and add the carrot seed oil, red raspberry seed oil, and your essential oils if you want to scent it (I used about 20 drops of lavender in mine). Then stir! You can use a regular spoon for this, it doesn’t matter. When you first start to whip it, it’ll look a little lumpy:

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Step Six

Keep whipping for about two minutes or until smooth. The mixture should look something like this when you are finished:

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Step Seven

Find an appropriate sized jar or container for your homemade sunscreen (whatever you’d prefer to keep your sunscreen in) and scoop the mixture in. Walaah! You are done. I used an old honey jar for mine:

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Note that this doesn’t make that much homemade sunscreen. This jar is pretty small. You may want to double the recipe if you are planning on sharing this or using it a lot. For me, I didn’t want to make a ton because I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out. Now, I’d happily make another batch!

These are the amounts of the SPF in all the ingredients used:

Coconut oil: SPF 5

Shea butter: SPF 5

Red raspberry seed oil: SPF 25-50

Carrot seed oil: SPF 35-40

Avocado oil: SPF 7

Also just FYI, I had to order the beeswax, red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil online. I couldn’t find these at my local stores.

I was able to find the shea butter at the supermarket and of course, I already had the essential oils, avocado oil, and coconut oil on hand. All of these ingredients are a little pricey but the good news is that there will be enough for you to make batches and batches of homemade sunscreen to come.

When I finished it, despite the essential oils, all I could smell was the carrot seed oil. It was an overpowering, strange smell. But, I applied the sunscreen to my arms and face today and Ian smelled my face and said all he could smell was lavender. Hm? Well, okay. If you say so. The man approves. It smells nice.

So why shouldn’t you just go to the store and buy cruelty-free sunscreen? Well sure, you can do this. For me, I find joy in making things for myself because then I know exactly what’s in it as well as how it’s been made.

Plus, while some sunscreens have nice ingredients that are safe, the majority of them do not, in case you were wondering. The other thing is that if you buy a nice sunscreen, it’s probably going to be expensive, especially if you keep buying it over time.

Protecting your skin is important, but it shouldn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s more economical to buy ingredients that you can use over and over again to make your own homemade sunscreen.

A Note on Zinc Oxide

Almost all of the recipes I found online included zinc oxide as one of the ingredients for homemade sunscreen. All of these recipes cautioned the user about not breathing in the particles of zinc oxide.

I was confused by this. If I don’t want to breathe it in on accident, why would I want it touching my skin? It looks sketchy to me, and I didn’t want to use it in my homemade sunscreen. I would encourage you not to either.

I’ve recently found that some conventional sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide which can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Scary?

Update to this post: I’ve been using this sunscreen for about a year now and not once been burned. It’s fabulous! I have also found that it loses its potency not long after that time, so I wouldn’t keep it for more than one year.

Happy homemade sunscreen making! 🙂

4 Amazing Things for Healthy Skin Care

Healthy skin care is so essential to your beauty routine! I’ve found some wonderful natural things (plants, not products) that are just downright bad at making your skin supple, shiny, and healthy. And by bad I mean awesome. Young people lingo, right?

Here are some amazing things for healthy skin care!

1. Shea Butter

Shea butter

I just recently started using shea butter for healthy skin care. I picked up shea butter at the store because I needed it to use in my homemade sunscreen recipe. I did use shea butter in my sunscreen recipe, but I’ve also been loading heaps of it onto my skin.

I bought the organic unrefined version, which smells a little like barbecue sauce to me. Yeah, it’s also gray… Really odd… (obviously you can tell this picture is not the one I bought, ha).

I love it because I don’t mind smelling like a walking pork chop when my skin looks amazing. And you get used to the smell for healthy skin care. It just has a smoky smell to it.

So far, this is my favorite thing to use. I love it too because it stays put where aloe absorbs into your skin so quickly and the coconut oil will just rub off on your clothes or sheets before it absorbs properly. I would recommend a naturally-scented version for your healthy skin care to avoid toxic synthetic fragrances.

2. Coconut Oil

coconut oil

I will always love coconut oil, and no one will ever tell me that I can’t love it.

I do love it for skin use but also for cooking and putting in my tea. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer for my face and body. I ditched regular lotion about a year ago after finding that most brands had paraben and other weird things in them.

Choose organic, especially to put on your skin, otherwise, your skin will be absorbing the pesticides. Yuck, right? Healthy skin care involves coconut oil!

3. Vitamin C

vit c

I don’t care where you get it from, you have to have this for healthy skin care.

I take a supplement every day in addition to eating foods rich in vitamin C just because it’s hard to get the amount you need from just food alone. A long time ago, our bodies made vitamin C, but somewhere along the way, they stopped. So now we need it from external sources.

Load up on the oranges, lemons, limes, peppers (seriously, peppers have more vitamin C than oranges!) and get yourself a proper supplement for healthy skin care.

Fun fact about vitamin C: most supplements are synthetic. Ascorbic acid is the thing that your body has to turn vitamin C into in order for it to be absorbed properly. The good news? Your body apparently can’t tell the difference. This doesn’t mean that you can skip out on a quality supplement, though.

P.S—Watch out for cheap supplements, they may contain GMOs!

4. Aloe Vera

aloe vera

I was buying big leaves of this stuff at my supermarket, breaking off pieces, and rubbing that clear gooey stuff on my skin for healthy skin care. It was wonderful.

It absorbed quickly and yet left my skin feeling supple and smooth. This is also great for scar tissue. Perfect for when you need something that dries really quickly and will yet keep you feeling refreshed and fabulous.

Downside: sometimes digging your fingers into that cold, clear gooey stuff just got old.

Another huge part of healthy skin care is protecting your skin. All of these things will help protect your skin but sunscreen is also important. My next post will be about homemade sunscreen. For reasons you will soon find out (or may already know about if you know about animal testing), you may want to steer clear of that stuff at the store.